Apr 07, 2011

Taiwan: Pessimism About The Well-Being Of Dissident Artist Arrested By China

Taiwan is concerned about reports that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has been detained by the Beijing authorities and hopes he will be released immediately, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said in a statement released on Wednesday 6 April.


Below is an article published by Focus Taiwan:


The country's top China policy planner also urged Beijing to clarify Ai's situation and the state of his well-being.

According to foreign wire service reports, Ai, one of China's most famous modern artists and a critic of the country's Communist one-party rule, was detained at Beijing's international airport as he prepared to board a flight to Hong Kong April 3.

The reports said Ai's house had also been cordoned off by police as the Chinese authorities continued a crackdown on advocates of free speech and political reform. The clampdown was reportedly triggered by anonymous online calls for people to gather every Sunday around China in peaceful protests in a bid to emulate uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

Noting that demands for freedom, democracy, human rights and political reform have been increasing among the Chinese people, the MAC statement said Beijing should squarely face up to these new developments.

As freedom of speech, freedom of thought and greater political freedom are universal values, the statement said, China's leaders should effectively respond to their people's calls by improving the human rights situation.

Ai, 54, is the son of the late Chinese poet Ai Qing and is known for his social activism. He has probed school collapses following the huge 2008 earthquake in the southwestern province of Sichuan and more recently launched a "citizen's investigation" into a Shanghai fire that killed at least 58 people last November.

He was blocked from leaving China in December to attend the award ceremony for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, which went to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Since Ai's disappearance, the governments of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Australia, as well as Amnesty International and other rights groups, have publicly urged China to immediately release him.

Markus Ederer, the European Union's ambassador to China, has also issued a statement expressing concern about Beijing's increasing use of arbitrary detention against activists.

"Our attention has been brought lately to the case of Ai Weiwei, a well-known artist who reportedly went missing at the weekend after attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong," Ederer said in the statement. "We call on the Chinese authorities to refrain from using arbitrary detention under any circumstances”.